Parking breaks - Page 3

Supervisors and angry citizens fail to deter the SFMTA from managing on-street parking

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SF EXAMINER PHOTO BY MIKE KOOZMIN

But he noted that many of his constituents can't afford to own a car and they need SFMTA to actively promote other transportation options: "We do need to find a way to do everything and balance this out."

FRUSTRATION WITH SFMTA

No neighborhood epitomizes the tricky balancing act on parking polices more than the northeast Mission, with its tight mix of residential and production, distribution, and repair businesses in a neighborhood where growing parking demand will be exacerbated by plans to convert the parking lot at 17th and Folsom streets into a park.

That was where the anger at the SFMTA's approach to parking reached a fever pitch last year, spawning opposition groups such as the Northeast Mission Coalition. Angela Sinicropi, who heads that group, is calling for new preferential parking permits for local residents and the PDR businesses in the area.

"It's not a preference or a choice. Vehicles are a necessary part of these businesses," said Sinicropi, who owns a photography business called Syntax Studio. "We need long-term, all-day parking."

She said her members appreciate SFMTA staff working with residents, but they're still frustrated by the agency's reliance on parking meters as the main parking management tool. Others simply slammed the SFMTA — which was set up as an independent agency that would be somewhat immune from political pressures — as out-of-control.

"The problem with the MTA is their lack of transparency and accountability," Rob Francis said.

"MTA has lost its way. They shouldn't be focused on parking. They should focus on transit," said Potrero Hill resident Jim Wilkins. "As taxpayers, we pay for the streets. We pay to maintain those streets. So we should be given priority on those streets."

"Keep things as they are and be respectful of taxpayers," said Walter Bass, a Potrero Hill property owner, blaming the "bike people" for skewing the agency's priorities. "SFMTA has lost the privilege to manage parking in San Francisco."

Reiskin sat in the front row listening to angry tirades against him and his agency for more than an hour, yet he stuck by his position that managing parking is far from a privilege — it is a difficult duty and one he doesn't intend to shirk, even as he tries to heed the public's concerns.

In the end, the supervisors didn't really chasten the SFMTA, as its critics had hoped for.

Farrell seemed content to declare, "There are no other plans to expand parking meters throughout San Francisco," after Reiskin said he's not planning to go beyond the five parking management areas now being created.

"I hope MTA was listening to the public comments and concerns," Cohen offered, hoping the hearing will somehow alleviate the shitstorm from some of her car-driving constituents.

And Campos closed with perhaps the only real conclusion that could be drawn from this hearing: "This won't be the last time we'll be talking about this issue."